Trying to create a skincare brand in Paris, during the second lockdown following a pandemic and being a foreign woman, is not easy at all!
Why do it then?
I have always been passionate about cosmetics, since I was little I bought makeup, face products and I liked to test everything! Small problem: each product gave me adverse reactions or even severe allergies. Coming from a country where natural cosmetics are not very widespread, it was difficult to find the most suitable products for me and my sensitive skin.
My passion for cosmetics evolved when I arrived in France because in addition to discovering pharmaceutical products, I discovered natural, organic and eco-responsible products: a first for me. I also subscribed to several monthly boxes in order to discover new products, and I regularly bought other products in pharmacies to test but I was not always convinced.
The confinement, the desire to create something, my passion for cosmetics and the discovery of homemade cosmetics pushed me to create my own natural skincare brand.
How did I start structuring Melāhuac?
First of all, you must first know what you want to do, that is to say, choose between a product or a service. Do market research, find out about the sector, compare future competing brands, launch surveys to find out which product your target needs, … So many steps to take before making your final choice. You should know that throughout your project, the initial idea can evolve and change several times; this was my case.
The most important thing is to know where to start, it will avoid wasting time and money on your business.
Here are some key steps to get started:
Find a business partner: you can do the project alone, but having a partner allows you to broaden your ideas, complement your skills and save time.
Do a survey: if you want to know if what you are selling corresponds to your target, do a survey to find out about people's habits, how much they would spend, where they buy their cosmetics, etc. For our part, this survey opened our eyes and we had to change our initial range.
Finding an incubator: the most important thing for me was to be accompanied. This allowed me to network*, meet other entrepreneurs, exchange supplier contacts and be accompanied by experts whose vocation is to guide you for the next steps, in particular the most important: the creation of the company and the filing of the trademark with the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property).
Make a business plan: A business plan** evolves all the time, but it is the element that will allow you to move forward and have visibility of your business and the future of your company as a whole. The incubator can always help you refine the business plan and prepare it to show it to your future accountant.
Find an accountant and a lawyer: once you have your idea, your partners and the name of the brand, it is very important to employ an accountant and lawyer who will guide you on the legal and financial side of creating a business. company and trademark registration. Above all, do not start creating content (social networks, website, etc.) for your brand if you have not yet validated the name with the INPI: you risk losing the name and money (this was our case). To give an idea, it takes about 4 months after the registration of the mark to have the validation. Once this has been validated, you can start working using the name and looking for a domain name for your website and/or e-shop if necessary.
Choosing a laboratory and suppliers: Cosmetics is an expensive business sector… having savings, love money*** or financial aid is important when starting up. There are laboratories that formulate products, i.e. they themselves prepare so-called "white" formulas in order to resell them to you (so you will have the same formula as brand X, only packaging will be different), however you can find an independent formulation expert and produce in a lab. Personally, we have chosen to formulate our compositions from A to Z, that is to say, choose our ingredients so that they correspond to our own specifications, and our own desires and needs: a formula 100% created thanks to the collaboration between my partner, our independent formulator and me.
You have to coordinate the quantities to be produced with the laboratory and your suppliers, they have to be consistent and adapt to your needs.
You must always wait to validate your formulas and declare them to the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP) before selling the products.
Do a test workshop: test your final formula during a workshop to see if the formulas or the bottles need changes. Also have anyone around you test for sincere (and sometimes raw) feedback. Our test workshop carried out in September 2020 at La bonne composition allowed us to validate the final formula and change one of our bottles following ergonomic problems. The people present at the workshop were therefore future followers of Melāhuac and as the first concerned by the use of the products, their feedback was a precious help to perfectly suit our target.
Make a crowdfunding campaign: crowdfunding more than a tool to finance your production, it turns out to be a great tool to test the appeal of your products, know your target (what type of people will participate financially) during the launch, carry out large-scale communication and get initial customer feedback. We ran our campaign on Ulule and we reached a goal of 342% in 24 hours!
Use Shopify: It is the tool of choice to start your e-commerce without spending too much and having all the tools to make a functional and aesthetic site. It is perfectly adapted to sell cosmetics and easily customizable with applications to then integrate into the website. Shopify offers different offers according to the needs of the company, the price becomes higher by successive additions of applications linked to the page, the commissions are also to be taken into account.
Continuous improvement: Continuously improving your packaging, your product and your site is important to stay in the running against competitors. Just like the basic idea, your brand will evolve every year, every month, every day in order to better adapt to your target. The cosmetics industry is a very competitive sector and adaptation is an essential quality, in fact, if you are not interested in new trends, the needs of your customers or even the cosmetics market in general, you will be impossible to evolve your brand over the years.
Word of advice: try to minimize expenses as much as possible by watching tutorials to learn how to do things like creating the site, professional photos, managing social networks, etc. You will learn a lot more from trying things out for yourself and you will become more independent. Also find suppliers who inspire you with confidence and who share the same values as you! A good relationship with your collaborators completely changes the way you work and progress in your projects.
Everything takes time in creating a cosmetics brand. Take your time, it's worth it!
*Networking: Ability to create a trusted network of professionals, enthusiasts, experts, etc. to exchange knowledge and advice over the long term.
**Business plan: File constitutes the complete business plan of the company. It contains the values, ambitions and financial needs of the latter in order to present them to future investors in particular.
***Love money: Fundraising made by the founders of the company with his family, relatives, friends and acquaintances in order to finance part or all of his project.